Dulwich Picture Gallery II


François VERWILT

Rotterdam 1620/23–Rotterdam, 8 August 1691
Dutch painter, draughtsman and art dealer

François Verwilt was the son of the painter Adriaan Verwilt (1582–1639/41) and the student of Cornelis van Poelenburch (1594/5–1667) in Utrecht. He spent most of his career in Rotterdam, but is frequently recorded in Middelburg, where he joined the painters’ guild in 1661, in Vlissingen, and in Veere, where he became a member of the guild in 1667. He painted portraits and Italianate landscapes of Biblical and mythological scenes in the style of Poelenburch, and is also known as a still life painter.

Haverkorn van Rijsewijk 1897; Briels 1997, p. 398; Jansen 1988, pp. 193–4; Schadee 1994, p. 304; Van der Willigen & Meijer 2003, p. 207; Sluijter-Seijffert 2006; Heyning 2018, pp. 78–83; Ecartico, no. 7831: http://www.vondel.humanities.uva.nl/ecartico/persons/7831 (Nov. 19, 2017); RKDartists&, no. 80782: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/artists/80782 (Nov. 18, 2017).

DPG485 –Jupiter and Antiope

Signed, lower right: f.v.wilt
ak panel, 37.8 x 47.3 cm

Bourgeois Bequest, 1811; Britton 1813, p. 15, no. 132 (‘Middle Room 2nd Floor / no. 10, Nymph, Satyr & Cupid in rocky Landscape P[anel] Polemberg’; 1'10" x 2'10")

Cat. 1817, p. 3, no. 12 (‘FIRST ROOM – South Side; Sleeping Nymph and Satyr; Cornelius Poelemberg’); Haydon 1817, p. 371, no. 12 (Cornelius Poelemburg); Cat. 1820, p. 3, no. 12 (Poelenburch); Hazlitt 1824, pp. 31–2, no. 12;1 Cat. 1830, p. 7, no. 105; Jameson 1842, ii, p. 459, no. 105; Hazlitt 1843, p. 25, no. 105;2 Denning 1858 and 1859, no. 105 (by his pupil Jan van der Lis?);3 Sparkes 1876, p. 118, no. 105 (Poelenburch); Richter & Sparkes 1880, p. 180, no. 105 (first attribution to F. Verwilt);4 Richter & Sparkes 1892, p. 128, no. 105;5 Richter & Sparkes 1905, p. 136, no. 105; Wurzbach 1906–11, ii (1910), p. 786; Cook 1914, p. 267, no. 485;6 Cook 1926, p. 248; Cat. 1953, p. 42; Murray 1980a, p. 303; Haak 1984, p. 414 (fig. 904); Beresford 1998, p. 252; Jonker & Bergvelt 2016, p. 279; RKD, no. 286784: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/286784 (Nov. 20, 2017).

Single-member oak panel with horizontal grain. Pale grey ground thinly applied. There is a very slight bow across the grain. The verso bottom and side edges are bevelled. The grain of the panel shows though the paint and has been retouched in the pale sky at the top left corner and in the figures. The blue cloak has faded or blanched, and green areas of landscape and foliage appear to have browned, indicating the probable use of a copper-based pigment. The paint layers are in good condition, with just some micro-crackle in the dark areas; there are, however, a few (retouched) damages, including one larger damage on the left-hand side in the background. Previous recorded treatment: 1953, cleaned and retouched, Dr Hell; 1980, surface cleaned, retouched and revarnished, National Maritime Museum, T. Caley.

1) François Verwilt, A Sleeping Nymph and two Satyrs, panel, 38.4 x 54 cm. Present whereabouts unknown (Sotheby’s, New York, 17 Oct. 1997, lot 116, as Daniel Vertangen) [1].7
2) Dutch School, 17th century, Landscape with Venus, Cupid and Satyrs, copper, 26 x 33.5 cm. Galleria Palatina, Florence, 461.8
3) Cornelis van Poelenburch, Cimon and Iphigenia, c. 1640–50, copper, 13.5 x 17.5 cm. Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, Geneva, CR 125.9

The scene is an episode from the Pseudo-Apollodorus’ Bibliotheca (3.5.5) in which Antiope, daughter of King Nykteos of Thebes, is raped by Zeus in the form of a satyr. The setting is an Italianate landscape with a grotto. The picture may have a companion in a painting formerly on the New York art market, with a similar composition in reverse, which depicts a sleeping nymph being approached by satyrs (Related works, no. 1) [1]; at the sale this was attributed to another of Poelenburch’s students, Daniel Vertangen (1600/1601–81), but M. C. de Kinkelder of the RKD has suggested that it might be by Verwilt. Two other paintings are stylistically related to DPG485: one in Florence (Related works, no. 2) and one in Geneva (Related works, no. 3).

The Dulwich painting was attributed to Poelenburch until 1880, when Richter and Sparkes noted the signature. As a Poelenburch the painting failed to satisfy its audience’s expectations in the 19th century: Mrs Jameson found ‘The composition disagreeable; the colour and effect wholly spoiled by injudicious cleaning’,10 and Hazlitt commented that ‘The grossness of the selection is hardly more offensive than the finicalness of the execution.’11

François Verwilt
Jupiter and Antiope, c. 1640-1691
panel (oak), oil paint 37,8 x 47,3 cm
Dulwich (London), Dulwich Picture Gallery, inv./cat.nr. DPG485

François Verwilt
Sleeping nymph with two Satyrs in a landscape
panel, oil paint 38,4 x 54 cm
lower right : Ver...
Sotheby's 1997-10-17, nr. 116


1 Sleeping Nymph and Cupid, and 14, Nymph and Satyr [DPG25], by Poelemberg, are not pictures to our taste. Why should any one make it a rule never to paint any thing but this one subject? Was it to please himself or others? The one shows bad taste, the other wrong judgement. The grossness of the selection is hardly more offensive than the finicalness of the execution.’

2 Text as in 1824, see previous note.

3 1858: ‘Poelenberg’s pictures are rare. Many that pass for his are the work of his pupil John van der Lis’. 1859: ‘This may perhaps be the work of his pupil Jan Van Der Lis. It has not the graceful composition so generally seen in the works of Poelemberg.’ Perhaps Denning meant another pupil of Poelenburch, Dirck van der Lisse (1607–69)?

4 ‘Painted in imitation of Poelenburg, to whom it has been formerly ascribed. Pictures with signatures by this master are exceedingly rare.’

5 There was no need to give it a new number, as it was not exhibited (in the meantime, since 1892, there was a new DPG105, that was and is a Ruisdael; that was on show. In principle all pictures got a new inventory number in 1892, but here it appears that only the exhibited works got a new number.

6 What had been the unexhibited DPG105 became DPG485 in 1914.

7 RKD, no. 286815: https://rkd.nl/en/explore/images/286815 (Nov. 28, 2017).

8 Sframeli 2003, pp. 98–9, no. 14 (S. Pasquinucci).

9 Elsig 2009, pp. 133–5, no. 67 (C. Palanque).

10 Jameson 1842, ii, p. 459, no. 105.

11 See above, note 1.

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